Recent Florida SBDC Success Stories


Whiz Kids

Three years ago, Patricia Lenz began to fulfill a lifelong dream, the opening of Whiz Kids.  For the longest time, she always dreamed of owning and running a daycare center and caring for children.  She began to work towards this goal when she graduated from FGCU in 2009 with a degree in Child Education.  She then began to work in Elementary Education, gaining experience and learning how to handle and work with small children.  After a while, Patricia was ready to move on to the next steps. Click here to read the full story…


Velmaxx – No No-See-Um Insect Repellent

Noooooo No-See-Um Insect Repellent was created and developed by Caroline Semerjian.  After moving to Sanibel from Michigan she found that the bugs of southwest Florida were simply unbearable.  After waking up in the night covered in bites, endlessly scratching her legs and trying every bug repellent she could, she decided enough was enough.  She began to develop a new repellent that would not only repel No-See-Ums, but also blackflies and mosquitos.  After only creating 100 bottles of the new repellent, they were sold out quickly and immediately started to make more. Click here to read the full story…


Therapeutic Bodyworks, LLC

Pat Kirkpatrick and Kristy Dean

Kristy Dean loves being a licensed massage therapist. It has been her full-time profession for 20 years, during which time she’s developed an extensive clientele. Actually, she can’t imagine doing anything else. For 19 years, she rented space as a solo practitioner in executive office suites and chiropractic offices to run her small business. Business was good, but the seasonal, summer months always proved to be a challenge in Southwest Florida—that is, until three years ago.  Click Here to Read the Full Story…


Polygon Solutions, Inc.

IMG_2996Friends Peter Bagwell, Jim Cox, and Steve Derbin had always dreamed of starting a business together, specifically a machine shop. In 2010 that dream took its first step towards reality when, over coffee in Michigan, the three decided to finally “just do it.” Today the three are partners in Polygon Solutions, Inc., which makes its home in an industrially zoned area of south Fort Myers.  Click Here to Read the Full Story…


Coast Chiropractic Centers, Inc.

West Coast Chiropractic 1Dr. Timothy Harcourt discovered that he had a unique business problem when he moved to Southwest Florida in the fall of 2011.  The third-generation chiropractor had worked in his family’s successful chiropractic office in York, Pennsylvania for 25 years.  His grandfather and father were chiropractors, and his two brothers are currently in practice as chiropractors.  Click Here to Read the Full Story…


7th Avenue Social

7th Avenue SocialColin Estrem’s popular wine bar, 7th Avenue Social on 7th Ave. South, is due in part to the advice and guidance the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Florida Gulf Coast University. Growing up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Estrem always had a love of food and hospitality, inspired by the quality and success of D’Amico & Sons restaurant and catering brand, which owns restaurants in both Minneapolis and Naples. In an interesting confluence of events, he moved to Naples with his then girlfriend, now wife, and began working at Cafe Lurcat, a D’Amico-owned restaurant. Estrem soon learned that the wine bar across the street, which he often frequented after work, was up for sale. Click Here to Read the Full Story…


Zirilli’s Chilly Treats

Zirillis Treats (3)Southwest Florida is known for its warm and balmy days, but on Aug. 23, 2014, Cape Coral felt a cool chill when Zirilli’s Chilly Treats opened its doors for business on Pine Island Road. Originally from Philadelphia where Italian ice, or “water ice,” is a popular treat, Barbara Zirilli-Lonergan moved to Cape Coral with her husband six years ago, and immediately noticed its absence. She would often joke with her husband that they should open a water ice store, until one day her husband finally said, “I’m tired of hearing you talk about it.  Are you going to do something about it?” Click Here to Read the Full Story…


Key Security Services

Key Powell

Key Powell, the owner of Key Security Services, says he caught the entrepreneurial bug from his father.  After graduating from the University of Florida, he entered the corporate world, which only confirmed to him that he wanted to own his own business. “I was most driven by the idea that my success would no longer be tied to the corporate structure.  Hard work, determination, ingenuity, creativity and intelligence became very real concepts,” he says. Click Here to Read the Full Story…